Liverpool abandoned the 4-3-3 that we used throughout the entirety of last season and deployed a 4-2-3-1 system last night – with Jurgen Klopp hinting it was to get the best out of Fabinho.
The Brazilian started in a double pivot alongside Gini Wijnaldum, with both men charged with creating a defensive platform, but also linking midfield and attack and transitioning the ball up the field.
Xherdan Shaqiri began on the right, with Sadio Mane left, Roberto Firmino at no.10 and Mo Salah up top, although the front four were so flexible it would be inaccurate to state their exact positions following the 4-0 thrashing of Red Star.
The boss was delighted with Fabinho’s outing, which included nine successful tackles, but just as importantly, a number of crisp forward passes that proved he’s more of progressive midfielder than a simple destroyer.
“Very good, very, very good,” Klopp replied, when asked about Fabinho’s outing, before expanding on our formation [Echo].
“The present for his birthday was not that he was in the starting line-up, it was that we played his favourite system with a double six (two holding midfielders).
“He played really well. It was good to see. Very aggressive – everything was there. For the first game in a while, his second game from the beginning, it was good.
“It was quite impressive what people saw tonight. It always helps a player to play a good game, and that helped us tonight and helped him. That was the start, let’s carry on.”
Fabinho and Wijnaldum are perfect for these roles, as both are excellent positionally, with technical and physical attributes in abundance.
This formation suits the pair, as it would Naby Keita, who enjoyed playing in a two for Rb Leipzig. The Guinean is also an option for Shaqiri’s position in this set-up, although he’d prefer to start centrally.
Jordan Henderson could also benefit from this tactic, although we’re not sure it suits James Milner or Adam Lallana so well.
Regardless, if the team is performing, we’re not especially worried about which players are involved, so long as we’ve found a method of playing well and winning matches.
We’d like to see the 4-2-3-1 tried again against Cardiff at the weekend.